Sunday, June 1, 2014

The New Family Court Building

The new Family Court building at 15th and Arch is nearly complete. With its glass in place it's time to
announce, this building is as bad as it could be.

Okay, maybe not that bad. It could be surrounded by a parking lot. But remember when government's built the best stuff? 

There is a vast difference between an ugly building and one that doesn't make sense, and the new FCB is the latter. Philadelphia is home to hundreds of ugly buildings: Robinson's Department Store, the Roundhouse, even the PSFS Building and City Hall in a certain light could be considered "ugly." But they're examples of well executed architecture and designs that made a statement and have found their way back to a positive light.

The FCB will never be so ugly it's great. Its greenish blue panels echo the color of bins found in government warehouses and postal bathrooms. It's a color that no one has ever used outside of a government facility.  And for some reason, government facilities still use it, apparently even as a design element.

It's thin metallic lines separating the windows would have been a good choice for a relatively short building amongst skyscrapers. They could carry the eye upward creating the illusion that it's much taller than it is. But they're broken up by thick horizontal lines every at every other floor, interrupting the building's upward flow.

And then there's the entrance, which looks like a suburban office building tucked into the corner of its only slightly more interesting entirety. The whole thing looks like an 80s era fax machine. I assume that's why it's got a handle on the top of it.

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